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  • ledifk26 December 1999
    A wonderful film about the beginning of the end of a middle class family that falls in despair with wonderful performances that reveal what human nature is able to do to survive in a material world where people who has the money has the power and there's nothing to do to change it just trying to survive or fall down and destroy themselves.
  • I think this is one of the best 90's films. Ripstein's masterpiece ( I'm sure by now he knows he want make any film that equals this) is based upon a novel by Nobel awarded Naguib Mafouz. Another Mexican whose story comes from Mafouz is 'El callejón de los milagros' by Jorge Fons. The story develops the 'fall of middle class family' with as much intensity as possible. Good cast. Julieta Egurrola is great in the character of Ignacia Botero (mother of the family). In this film Ripstein catches every shade of the story and is more content than other films. The only objection I had is the last sequence of the film, which is wonderfully shot and edited but maybe not according to the general tone of the rest. I forgot to mention there's even a flair of humour.
  • EdgarST16 August 2001
    One can admire Arturo Ripstein's and wife Paz Alicia Garciadiego's screen adaptation of Naguib Mahfouz' novel for its capacity to maintain one's attention for three hours, but there are elements that question its credibility and make the translation to México too broad, schematic and artificial. Most of the time the film is an exercise in tremendism that in the end distances one from the story. Surely an Egyptian story can be adapted to Mexico. This endeavor was made even better by Vicente Leñero a year later in Jorge Fons' "El Callejón de los Milagros". In Leñero's adaptation one felt a true Mexican ambiance, and the structure of the script was richer and more complex; in Garciadiego's case Mexico city is only the sordid décor for a story that is too centered in its characters' psychology to describe the decline of a middle class family into poverty. Even in the psychological realm, the film sometimes delves into suggestions that add to nothing more than a tease. On the other hand, some dialogues must look "poetic" on paper, but they just sound plain silly when spoken –as in the scene where an unwed mother breaks up with a young suitor. Dealing with Garciadiego's dialogues, some actors are able to turn naturalistic performances (Bruno Bichir, the always excellent Blanca Guerra, and Julieta Egurrola and Lucía Muñoz as mother and daughter) but in leading actor Ernesto Laguardia's delivery they sound as lines from a bad soap opera. In some ways "Principio y fin" reminded me of "Rocco e i suoi fratelli", Luchino Visconti's tragic tale of the deterioration of a poor Sicilian family. But Visconti also made it clear that he was making a melodrama. Ripstein narrates the first two hours of the story in a conventional "zero degree" style, with a few arty moments for good measure (the meeting of brothers Bichir and Laguardia in a barber shop, that is too homoerotic to ring true). Then all of a sudden the story turns into a weird tragedy which Ripstein shots with a wild hand-held camera, adds foreign drums to the soundtrack, and the film abruptly ends. There is no doubt that Ripstein and Garciadiego are always interesting, and they have made very good films. "El imperio de la fortuna" was an attractive version of Juan Rulfo's "El gallo de oro" and their version of the "Honeymoon Killers" in "Profundo carmesí" has been universally acclaimed. Though not a bad film, "Principio y fin" belongs to the category of their excesses, as the awful "La reina de la noche" or their ill-advised remake of "La mujer del puerto".